Race for Life and pedal power bags £500 charity donation for Sheringham supermarket worker Rachel
- Credit: Archant
A north Norfolk teenager has raised nearly £500 for cancer research by completing a sponsored run and a series of static bike rides, in spite of struggling with her own health problems.
As a youngster, Rachel Bird was slow to speak, also showing signs of being behind her peers developmentally.
After she was given speech therapy, her parents realised there was a more serious underlying cause, and she was eventually diagnosed with autism.
To the family's dismay, aged 13, Rachel suddenly began having seizures and her mum Wendy was told she also had epilepsy.
'It was difficult,' Ms Bird said. 'But, although there were a lot of struggles, Rachel has always had a wonderful, bubbly personality.'
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While her seizures are now under control, Rachel's autism means she still struggles with day-to-day life, particularly in social situations.
'It kind of makes life hard as, sometimes, I have no idea what people are talking about,' she explained. 'I get words mixed up and it can be hard to find the right answer.'
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However, determined not to let her problems hold her back, the former Aylsham High School student has clocked up a series of achievements – studying at City College, Norwich, performing on stage at the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth, with North Walsham dance school Footnotes, and getting a job on the checkouts at Tesco, Sheringham.
With the support of her mum and other family members, she has also completed the Norwich Race for Life four times, this year raising £177 for Cancer Research UK.
Keen to raise more cash for the charity, Miss Bird came up with the idea of completing a series of six static bike rides at the end of her Saturday morning shifts at Tesco.
'With just a bucket on the floor in the foyer, Rachel managed to raise an amazing £294,' Ms Bird said. 'We are very proud of her as, despite all her problems, she managed to do it all by herself.'
Thanking all those who supported her daughter's efforts, Ms Bird added: 'We have been amazed at the generosity of the people of Sheringham and we are also very grateful to the staff and management of Tesco who not only gave her the chance to fundraise, but also gave her a job where others wouldn't, and made allowances for her problems.